Travel Tip| Get A Week LinkPass Even If You’re There For 2 Days (Boston)

View from my Delta fllight back to Orlando.

View from my Delta fllight back to Orlando.

Travelling around the outskirts of Boston, I made a mistake (or two), learned the resulting lesson, and am here to share.

I’m frugal, eco-friendly, and patient.  This makes me an ideal candidate for using public transportation anywhere in the world.  I don’t mind being jostled, witnessing vomiting drunk college kids, listening to the latest gossip from conspiring middle-aged minds, and smelling a screaming baby in need of a serious diaper change. I’m good, you see, with just about everything.

So, where did I go wrong on this trip?

Being frugal, I immediately went on the MBTA site to look at passes. There a couple of options for short stays (3 weeks or less): Day LinkPass for $12, and Week LinkPass for $19. (Both provide unlimited subway, bus, ferry and commuter rail Zone 1A travel) 

My dilemma occurred when I understood that I had to take a taxi to my hotel Saturday night/Sunday morning and that I would be unable to leave the area where I stayed until Monday…because public transportation is unavailable in Bedford after 7/8pm on Saturdays. That meant I only needed to travel on Monday and Tuesday.

I thought long and hard about it–apparently, not enough, however.

You see, I only needed to visit four places. I thought, Hmm…well, I can get a CharlieTicket and use bus transfers. That surely will be the best choice. After all, the fare for the bus is $2.10.

First, let’s break down a couple of  prices for the MBTA:

  • CharlieCard $1.60
  • CharlieTicket $2.10

There are, of course, more fares, etc.  For my trip, the above two costs were the important ones.

It is apparent from comparison that travel with the reloadable plastic CharlieCard is far less expensive than travel with the paper CharlieTicket.  They both offer transfers, but users of the CharlieTicket are made to pay a surcharge. What for? I’m quite uncertain.  Still, I get the eco-friendly idea of the plastic CharlieCard versus the paper CharlieTicket.

The problem with the CharlieCard is that you can only purchase it at certain stations between the hours of 7am-7pm or from certain retail stores.  I’m sure this is convenient…if you live in the area.

If you are just visiting and arrive after the sales hour and are not in proximity to one these retail stores, then the CharlieCard fails to be an option. You cannot purchase the CharlieCard from the fare vending machines located inside the stations.

Understanding the above, upon my arrival to the Airport subway station, I purchased a CharlieTicket for $10 (sold in values of $5, $10, $20, etc.) to use on Monday when I needed to leave Bedford for my appointments. I believed that this would be good for a total of 8 trips, i.e. 4 regular fares and 4 transfers.

I miscalculated.

The CharlieTicket does not give transfers from bus to subway. So, you must pay the subway fare separately.

Unfortunately, I had gotten into the habit of the Rome subway system that allots 1 one-way subway transfer alongside unlimited bus transfers within 100 minutes (cost 1.50 Euros).

In Boston, you are allowed 1 bus transfer within 120 minutes (cost $2.10).

In the end, I purchased another $10 CharlieTicket because I hadn’t realized that I would need to use the subway as much as I did.

Total cost of public transportation trip $20 with 2 CharlieTickets for 2 days. Less than 2 Day LinkPasses ($24), but more than the Week LinkPass ($19).

My recommendation? From day one, get the Week LinkPass. You can purchase it from the fare vending machines in the Airport subway station.  If you are going to be in Boston for more than 3 weeks, get the Monthly LinkPass ($75).

Otherwise, get the Week LinkPass.  For $19 you get unlimited bus, subway, ferry and Zone 1A commuter rail travel.

Lesson learned.

Until Friday,

D.

P.S. If you are travelling to Rome, and staying for more than two weeks, then buy a monthly pass (35 Euros). You can purchase them inside major stations or by roadside kiosks! I’ll write a separate post about this soon! 🙂

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Travel | Let’s Chat For a Moment: Public Transportation Woes… (Boston Area vs Rome)

Image found via GIS.

Image found via GIS.

I happen to be travelling to Boston this weekend and spending a couple of days for a few greatly needed medical appointments.  To be quite frank, living in Rome has meant living without direct access to the doctors who know my illness best. Still, I’m happy that I have the chance to go and see them–many thanks to my mom and April.

Here’s the thing: being frugally-minded, I made a wonderful deal with Priceline.com to travel roundtrip from Orlando to Boston, plus spend the night in a decent hotel, Bedford Motel.  From the reviews on TripAdvisor.com, the Bedford Motel seemed reasonable and its location was in between or close to all the places I needed to be: Lexington, Burlington, Arlington, and Cambridge.

Of course, there is catch, although there shouldn’t be, but it’s not the fault of either Priceline, the hotel, or even my poor self.  It’s the MBTA (Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority).

Travelling from Orlando, where public transportation is basically nonexistent, I thought “Yes! I’m going to Boston. Subways, real buses, even a freaking ferry!!!” I was truly excited…until I called the hotel and was informed that…

The MBTA does not provide bus service to Bedford after 7pm on Saturdays or 9:30pm during the weekdays.  

What?? Seriously? You have to be kidding me. There I was thinking that I was returning to a little bit of a traveler’s haven, i.e. a city, only to be informed that I had no way of getting to my hotel except via taxi at a rate of ~$130 from the airport or ~$60 from the subway station.

With my savvy traveller skills, I imagined that I had found a work-around: Okay, I’ll sleep at the airport, grab the first subway in and catch the #62 bus to Bedford and sleep for the remainder of the day.

I checked online, found out that it was relatively easy to sleep/hangout in Terminal B 28 until the morning, where there are rocking chairs. I thanked the universe and sighed with relieved.

Yes, I thought I had found the answer, i.e. until I actually checked the bus schedule to Bedford.

No service on Sunday.

What?? Really??

This is beyond ridiculous now.  Why ridiculous? Because I expected more from the MBTA.  Not only was the service limited, but the fare had increased as well!

You see, coming from Rome where the buses show up whenever the driver feels like arriving, I had an expectation of refined service, catered to the needs of city dwellers.  I was not expecting this.

Yes, you may say that Bedford is a small town/neighbourhood/whatever.  I say that there must be working people in Bedford, people who need to get to work or simply get about the place.

In Rome, although the service leaves much to be desired, it is available on the weekends–there is always a way to move about the city, no matter the time.  Night bus services takes you into neighbourhoods that are outside the historic center. That service runs until regular service picks up again.  In Boston, I read that they are diminished night transportation services at the end of June.

So, it looks like I’ll be hopping on the subway and catching a taxi from Alewife to Bedford.  It’s sad news, but for this reason I know that I can never recommend staying at any hotel that is not within proximity of the subway system.  At least the subway runs on the weekends.

Until Next Time,

D.